Councillor and MP campaign to reduce traffic congestion in north Derbyshire town set for £24.1m revamp
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Plans for the multi-million-pound redevelopment of Clay Cross town centre recently took a leap forward after Labour-controlled North East Derbyshire District Council’s planning committee gave the go-ahead at a meeting on November 7 for the scheme which includes a new Town Square and the pedestrianisation of Market Street.
The scheme also aims to improve highway connections through the town by re-opening access between Bridge Street and Market Street and further work is being undertaken by the Clay Cross Town Deal Board to reconsider the possibility of direct access to a car park via the main A61 road.
Conservative North East Derbyshire MP Lee Rowley and Derbyshire County Cllr Charlotte Cupit, who had been disappointed by the board’s decision to withdraw the A61 car parking access plan from the Town Deal planning application, are continuing to call for the plans to be reconsidered alongside their long-running campaign for improvements to the busy A61 to reduce congestion.
Town Deal Board member, Cllr Cupit, said: “The Labour District Council have got themselves into a bit of a mess on the Town Deal – very sadly for Clay Cross.
“We had a good set of proposals a few months ago which all parties, including residents and businesses, had agreed to and then, at the last minute, they made a change which removed parking and car access to the town centre off High Street.
“I welcome the planning decision today (November 7) to approve the other important parts of the scheme but this lack of ability to find easy parking when you drive into Clay Cross from the south remains a big gap and risks gridlocking traffic in the centre of the town.
“We are going to keep campaigning to get these proposals added back in – and I hope the council make good on their commitments to us to look at this again.
“It’s notable too that the planning committee raised these same traffic concerns today as well, and many businesses have told us they want the improvements to be brought back too.”
Cllr Cupit and MP Lee Rowley feel the current proposals remain unbalanced and still pose traffic congestion risks so they are continuing to call for a new A61 access with car parking and traffic improvements to be reconsidered after the original plans had included car parking access with a new A61 access to the scheme’s Broadleys development and a revamp of a main car park off High Street.
Town Deal Board member Mr Rowley said: “One of Charlotte and my big objectives on the Town Deal when it first started was to improve how people get around the town centre – so many residents have told us that it hasn’t really worked since Tesco was built and Bridge Street closed.
“The original proposals tried to address that, and support our fantastic independent businesses on High Street and Market Street, with a balance of parking and access from all sides of the town.”
Mr Rowley added: “We welcome the approval of the rest of the proposals today but we are going to keep standing up for what residents told us they wanted from the beginning – a town centre, supported by adequate access and parking, that is available to everyone, whichever way they drive or come into the town.”
Conservative Derbyshire County Council Leader, Barry Lewis – who is not a Town Board member – had also urged the board to reconsider its position regarding the possibility of direct access to a car park via the A61.
North East Derbyshire District Council Leader and Town Deal Board member, Nigel Barker, had argued the decision to remove plans for a new car park entrance from the Clay Cross Town Deal regeneration scheme was made to ensure that other overall long-awaited improvements could go ahead without delay.
Cllr Barker explained the decision had been made to avoid planning objections that could have delayed the Clay Cross Town Deal and that the car park access proposal may still be revisited at a later time.
Mr Rowley and Cllr Cupit, who began campaigning for improvements to the A61 six years ago with the aim of submitting a bid for Government funding, are hosting a public meeting about the A61 road between Clay Cross and Chesterfield to further discuss options to reduce congestion as well as well as plans to improve traffic flow.
Their campaign has so far helped Derbyshire County Council win some funding from Midlands Connect to complete detailed work on possible options for the A61 before further funding can soon be sought by campaigners to support the best intervention possible to reduce congestion based on a community-wide decision.
Possible options include a link road across The Avenue, a new bypass, and changes to the road in another location.
The public meeting is to be held for interested stakeholders and residents at the St Barnabas Centre, off Pilsley Road, in Clay Cross, between 10.30am and 1pm, on Friday, November 17.
A later public meeting will also be held at the Parish Rooms, off New Road, in Wingerworth, between 5.45pm and 6.30pm, on Friday, November 17, to provide a summary for those unable to attend the main meeting.
Those wishing to attend either meeting are advised to email Mr Rowley at [email protected] should they wish to check and ensure seating.